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Old 07-13-2002, 10:12 PM   #196
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Rub-a-Dub in the Hot Tub



WASHINGTON — Dick and Rummy are in the Jacuzzi at Camp David.
The two masters of the Bush universe have had a lousy week. And now, with the white cast on Rummy's hand buoyed by bubbles, they just want to sip Scotch on the rocks and review the knocks.
They are keeping one eye on the Kid, who's been jogging circles around Aspen Lodge for the past nine hours.
Junior is supposed to be inside practicing how to say "mal-fea-sance" with an "s." But he won't do it. He's sulking. He went to Wall Street on Tuesday to show that the hero of Sept. 11 could retaliate against the creeps who wiped out the neighborhood and also keep C.E.O.'s from looting.
But the president who got elected on the backs of C.E.O.'s and said he wanted to run the country like a C.E.O. was about as convincing a sheriff as Barney Fife.
Rummy's war has also run into a bad patch, bombing brides instead of bin Laden.
As the two men soak, more steam is coming from the vice president than the hot tub.
"The Kid never should have gone to Wall Street in the first place," Dick grumbles. "All those poppycock reforms he and Rove rushed into the speech. Who knew our Karl was also a Marxist? When the going gets tough, the weak go polling. Who cares what Americans think? They should care what we think."
W. jogs past with a singsong chant: "It's NOT my fault, it's NOT my fault, it's BUBBA'S fault, it's BUBBA'S fault."
Dick and Rummy laugh indulgently.
"SWAT teams swooping down on C.E.O.'s?" Dick scoffs. "What nonsense. Will government lawyers ride around in stealth golf carts and read these guys their rights on the back nine?
"We certainly don't need more transparency in this country. Transparency is just a fancy kind of indecent exposure, a sick counterculture idea, whether it's about the markets, accounting or giving up the names of our Houston buddies who dictated my energy policy. I say: Zip it.
"We don't owe anybody any explanation for any thought or action that any of us have ever had or done."
Rummy grins devilishly and skillfully balances his glass on his cast in a silent toast.
"Those lily-livered liberals in Congress are outrageous — they're criminalizing greed!" Dick says. "And the spineless Republican fellow travelers on the Hill are almost worse — they'll dry up our donor base and destroy the party before they're through. McCain is just Norman Thomas with medals.
"I have nothing against sharing, of course. As long as it's us getting the shares.
"Our strategy is to slow down the House and Senate so these stiffer accounting and corporate-greed bills never see the light of day. Maybe you guys could accelerate your war on Baghdad. A righteous distraction would come in handy."
The Pentagon boss indicates with a nod of his cast that this is possible. "Bunch of anticapitalist, world-government-loving wusses," Rummy says. "They don't understand how tough we had it as C.E.O.'s. It's lonely at the top."
Junior jogs over to the Jacuzzi and tries to get Vice's attention.
"Dude?"
Dick waves him off and resumes his rant: "All that stands between America and socialism are stock options. Without options, companies can't lure great leaders who will take risks — with other people's money, of course. If Congress got its way, when the stock went down, the C.E.O. would lose money just like everyone else. But we are not everyone else."
The president tries again to get Dick's attention: "Dude?"
Dick goes on, his dander rising. "I'm sick and tired of these Sunday morning pinkos trying to impoverish the ruling class. People should get off my back about the way I cashed out of Halliburton. What's $20 million these days?"
Rummy is astonished. For the first time in the many decades he has known Dick, his friend's face is no longer affectless. Dick gives the impression of something that can only be called emotion.
But the Kid has finally lost patience. He jumps into the Jacuzzi, barely missing Rummy's cast, and sloshes right over to Vice, leaning into his ear and wailing plaintively: "Where's Karen?"
By MAUREEN DOWD
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Old 07-13-2002, 10:26 PM   #197
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Karen?

(a stupid ? is one never asked)
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Old 07-14-2002, 08:49 PM   #198
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A Palestinian Baby...




These are the kind of people the Israeli's are dealing with.. Geezus..

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Old 07-14-2002, 09:00 PM   #199
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wonderful picture

of course we are evil if we oppose this
or
side with Israel
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Old 07-14-2002, 10:11 PM   #200
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What the hell are those Subway workers staring at that's apparently behind me outside the store?.. I swear, look at the damn sandwich..

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Old 07-15-2002, 09:47 PM   #201
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lemonite
What the hell are those Subway workers staring at that's apparently behind me outside the store?.. I swear, look at the damn sandwich..

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Eck

perhaps they were making a new "Jared" commercial outside the store
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Old 07-16-2002, 09:15 AM   #202
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One big question for Answer
By Ralph Wiley
Page 2 columnist


Allen Iverson put the "nil" in nihilism.

Given that, the question now is, where does a Thug Lifer go, when Thug Life is the only life he knows?

Straight to hell?

What do the 76ers do with him in the meantime?

The legal case against Iverson? "It ain't even a question," said Road Dog, trying his best to sound like Ja Rule. And he's right. What case?

It's not about this particular case, 14 counts of air, smoke and mirrors Iverson caught after chasing after his wife (who he allegedly threw out of the house buck naked) to her cousin's apartment. The resident occupants, complete ciphers without Iverson to kick around, say he was packing heat. In his waistband. They think.

Nobody's proved this, or even found a piece. Without any proof he was packing there's no case. Even if it's proved he had a gun but didn't pull it, there's no case. And everybody on the night cophouse beat knows it.

Any lawyer could tell us this is dead air, a nothing case, and several Philadelphia lawyers have tried.

This isn't a case. It's an episode of "Cheaters."

This isn't a case. It's a waste of taxpayer money -- as if taxpayer money isn't being wasted enough lately. Nine big strong, competent, Philly detectives, to serve one search warrant? Two of them could've gone over to Al Unser Jr.'s house, don't you think?

Road Dog thinks so. Says the old double-standard, the old in-and-out, in-and-out, is being applied to Alley I., with gusto. And yeah the sky is blue, Dog. So what? Get back in your cage before somebody sends nine cops over to serve a warrant on you.

There are larger issues here than this one case. It's not a question of whether the Iversons will have remorse and reconcile. There's not any question that Alley I. will beat it. The question is, what then?

Iverson's already doing life. In his own private hell.

He's a Thug Lifer.

If it ends well, it'll be an upset, greatest comeback he ever pulled off. It's all good to amuse and entertain Philadelphians of all colors and ages, which you did, Allen Iverson, as the star scorer of the Sixers. It's all good that your sneaker has become the sneaker du jour, and that you are helping Reebok put a headlock on Nike. It's all good that your Iverson jersey is the best selling NBA jersey, more than Shaq's, more than Kobe's. It's all good that you, A.I., are an anti-hero to thousands if not millions of disaffected youth. Only those disaffected youth are eventually going to pull the studs out of their noses and tongues and leave their youth behind them. Reebok will find some other horse to ride. Another guy's jersey will sell.

What do you do then, when Thug Life is the only life you know, and the rest of life begins to pass you by?

***** ***** *****


Alley I. is a Thug Lifer, and if you asked him, he'd probably say he's damn proud of it. Just to not have any hope. Just to be obstinate. It's not a stage he's going through anymore. It's him. It might be the end of him or his career one day, and sooner than he thinks.


Allen Iverson was spotted talking with an unidentified older woman outside his house after holding a gathering for family and friends Sunday night.
The end has a habit of coming sooner than we think.

Iverson reminds me of Tupac, the supremely talented rapper/actor who had Thug Life tattooed on his body, and who eventually died young trying to live up to an image of something he really was not -- or at least he didn't start out that way, not deep down. I didn't feel that when I met him. Back then he was just a shy kid with a group called Digital Underground out in the Bay Area. The next time I saw him, on TV, on the 6 O'Clock Bad News, I asked, "Who is that guy?"

Tupac was spitting at cameras and loudly screaming "Thug Life!" and acting like jail was no deal to him. Thug Life had caught him up. If he was to be ground up as part of a social compact he couldn't understand, then he'd revel in it. Others not only approved of this, and his music, they sort of reveled in it too. Of course, they could put it away when they were done listening to his music. Just like they can put Alley I. out of sight or mind when he's done playing for a season.

Even the superb poet Nikki Giovanni, a professor at Virginia Tech and social icon, wears a "Thug Life" tattoo, and has a sincere love for Tupac Shakur. But she didn't have to go for a ride with Suge Knight. Neither did I. Neither did you. That's the difference.

Nathan McCall is from Iverson's home, Hampton Roads, southern Virginia, where nihilism and life come pretty cheap; poor, hardscrabble, ill-educated, un-funded -- no wonder they ball so hard down there.

The youth there, ballers or not, learn Thug Life from TV, videos, rap albums, society at large, us. The poor there are like the poor everywhere; they know they're unwanted. And without an older person responsible for them to translate life, many of them never figure out that it doesn't matter if they are wanted or not.

It's not up anybody else. It's up to them.

Nathan McCall's book, "Makes Me Want to Holler," drew a bleak, accurate picture of the nihilism of black youth in Hampton Roads. Not that black youth from southern Virginia invented nihilism. It is a staple of all young people. French intellectuals, depressed men in their 50s, and writers specialize in it. But young black men are who we are targeting, and limiting, and jumping on, with both feet, and much glee.

What about it?

Exactly. Up to them to do something about it. Period.

At the beginning of his career, McCall asked what I thought of Iverson. I said everybody from Bruce Hornsby to Spike Lee to John Thompson said he was the truth; once I saw him, my eye was drawn to him, because I'd never really seen anything like him on the court. Isiah and Stockton were the best 6-foot players I'd ever seen, but Alley I. was right there with them, and maybe better. More electric.

McCall said, "No, I mean, do you think he can make it?"

"In the NBA? He's totally pure. An All-Star."


The real question about the Answer has never had anything to do with basketball.
"No, I mean, in life. You think he can make it?"

At the time, I didn't quite understand the question, even though I know Road Dog, and as an ex-teenager and a former black youth myself, I know something about nihilism. I just said, "... I don't see why not."

I saw in McCall's expression that he wasn't so sure.

I remember when Tupac was just a member of the Digital Underground out in the Bay Area. I remember meeting him. He was so shy he could hardly look me in the eye back then. Next time I saw him, he was spitting at a television camera, catching cases left and right, and guns were around.

Rings a bell for me now.

Handguns are not symbols. If around, they are not exactly going to keep people from getting shot. Once Tupac was caught up in the Thug Life, he acted like he reveled in it all. The role he played in "Juice" was homage to Jimmy Cagney in "Angels With Dirty Faces." Only he tried to live it, somehow. But you don't live that life. You die it. Cue Suge Knight.

I've been told Patrick Ewing tried to jack up Alley I. in a NBA locker room a couple of years ago, told him to straighten up and fly right. Or at least try. Charles Barkley tried talking to him. John Thompson tried talking to him. Pat Croce tried. Larry Brown tried. Billy Knight tried. But a Thug Lifer figures nobody knows the trouble he's seen; trouble was invented just for him. Nobody knows him, nobody but another Thug Lifer. Nobody else has been through the hell they've been through, or faced a society that didn't want him, hated him, forced him to its margins.

Oh, no? Sure they have. All those men have been in the same or similar situations, of being the Outsider, one way or another. But they made it to the inside, and so has Allen Iverson, only he can't see it, doesn't realize it, or doesn't want to. The men who would be surrogate fathers have gotten frustrated with Allen for thinking the world had a special crucible just for him. He's too young to be bitter, but he was. And it's true, nine cops would not be sent to Ken Lay's house to serve a search warrant, but then, you and I wouldn't be given until Tuesday to turn ourselves in on 14 counts including four felonies, just so that our lawyer could take his time getting back from vacation.

And so it's time to move Allen Iverson, not merely for the sake of the Sixers, but for his own.

Alley I. either grows up or he doesn't.

Might as well start right here, right now.

Dig, Allen, and recognize: you're a commodity. As you are handling your business now, you're not going to get any better as player. You've reached your top end. You are what you are. The best you can do is maintain it, especially if your offseason workouts consist only of a few charity games and chasing your wife's Escalade around the seamier parts of Philadelphia.

If it's like that -- then you ain't going to get no better.


Once rapper Tupac Shakur started living the Thug Life, he entered a dangerous downward spiral.
Charles Barkley has said it off the record. The Sixers should trade you now. Isiah Thomas has said it, that you are best suited as one of two or three scoring options, rather than the primary one who gets offended if the offense goes through anybody else.

On your next birthday you'll be 28, and with the kind of game you have, based on being much quicker than anybody else, and being able to spring higher than anybody else your size, any fall-off or deterioration of physical skills and you will begin to drop like an anchor -- unless you do a 180 and stop reacting like a Thug Lifer every time you have an argument with your old lady, or some quasi-friend of your old lady's cousin, or coach, or some soon to be ex-teammate, because how dare he argue with you, or just some guy at a traffic light shooting you a bird, or whoever.

Practice? Practice is the best place for you, if every other place is the death scene from "White Heat."

"Top of the world, Ma!"

Charles Barkley was in his eighth year when he was traded to the Phoenix Suns, and in many basketball ways, he can relate to Alley I. He too was undersized for his position, or at least under-heighted. His back was deteriorating by the time he got to Phoenix. But Phoenix worked out for Charles, all the way to the Finals against Jordan and the Bulls in '93, all the way to Game 6 in Phoenix, all the way to Thunder Dan Marleje pulling the string on one last baseline jumper, because Jordan was in his head.

What's in Allen Iverson's head?

Whatever it is, it ain't visions of sugar plums.

Whatever it is, it's got nothing to do with hoop.

Whoever it is, they're screaming.


Although applauded by the media during the 2001 NBA Finals, Iverson never really changed.
Iverson is a Thug Lifer in a career death spiral.

I don't blame him, I don't absolve him from blame.

I just know this would make me want to holler, too.

Allen Iverson has to realize the clock is ticking on his version of Inner City Blues. He has to understand the sand is running out of the hourglass for him, just like us. Worse than for us. We've got somewhere else to go. Hey Allen, check it out. In the end, you are just ... like ... us. You might not want to admit it. Lord knows we don't want to admit it. But it's not up to us. It's up to you. You need a new road, a fresh start.

Can you get one in Philly?

Can you get one at all?

Up to you. Not us.

Like that overly giddy Philly detective Lt. Michael Chitwood said, before you got served, "Stay tuned."

Chitwood ... Chitwood ... say, wasn't that the name of the star player in "Hoosiers"? ... Hey, heard about LeBron James? The Truth, they say. Better than the Answer. Adidas, Reebok and Nike are fighting over him already. ... Hey, the Europeans are coming. ... Hey, heard about O.J. Mayo? Only 14, and the Answer ...

See Allen? Life goes on. You're right. Nobody cares.

The question is -- do you?

Ralph Wiley spent nine years at Sports Illustrated and wrote 28 cover stories on celebrity athletes. He is the author of several books, including "Best Seat in the House," with Spike Lee, "Born to Play: The Eric Davis Story," and "Serenity, A Boxing Memoir."
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Old 07-16-2002, 03:49 PM   #203
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Big Grin Douche this!

I saw a humorous bumper sticker yesterday: They threw God out of the schools, and then sung "God Bless America."
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Old 07-16-2002, 05:30 PM   #204
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Hoorah for Dennis Miller! He said recently on his show, regarding the
judges who declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional:

"So, Your Honor, the Pledge is unconstitutional because it says 'Under
God.'
Guess that means when you were sworn in with
your hand on a Bible, and at the end of your oath repeated, 'So Help Me
God,' that makes your job unconstitutional,
therefore you have no job, which means your ruling doesn't mean shit!"
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Old 07-16-2002, 05:34 PM   #205
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Old 07-16-2002, 05:41 PM   #206
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LOL Dennis Miller
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Old 07-17-2002, 08:03 PM   #207
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I don't much like to post things that will just be chided as 'Radical Conservative Shit' because it does no good in this sort of environment.. However I do feel this is necessary to post, as it applies to what is going on now, and the message is uplifting, and is positive.. something that is missing in a lot of the BullShit going on with the talking down of the economy so it tanks like the market.. the rehashes of Bush's and Cheney's legal and clean investing history.. et al..... Some may just blow it off, but I do think it makes a good point (better than the Iverson article at least), and holds some nice facts that are good to know even if you disagree with the message so maybe you can one day see what is real.

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EIB: Monologue

Multi-millionaire senator Jon Corzine has been on an anti-market rant. It's puzzling to a lot of people, because he made $400 million at Goldman Sachs. He's the epitome of private sector activity, yet as soon as he buys election, he starts beating up the very institutions that made him wealthy! It's not just a case of, "Well, I have mine now so I can revert to who I really am." So the question is, "Why?"



You have to understand something about liberals. I'm not talking about Mom and Pop Liberal in Champaign-Urbana, who are Democrats because FDR was one. I'm talking about the leaders, elected officials and people that work in Washington. They are no different than the European socialists who look at the United States with disgust. They're intellectual elitists. They think they are entitled to wealth because of their superiority.

They should run the world. They know better. You are just a bunch of serfs that can't manage your own lives. Ah, but they look at America and guess what they see? A nation in which it's the serfs who rule! It's the ordinary American doing extraordinary things every day that makes this economy what it is. It isn't the liberal intelligentsia in the think tanks, Congress or Washington.

Liberal elitists like Jon Corzine resent the fact that "the masses," as they derisively call them, run this nation. They look at the United States as a mistake, an aberration. Socialism and communism is where it's really at. It just hasn't been given a fair shot.

You have to believe this, if you're going to understand what motivates these people. It's not that Corzine has gotten his and so now he's free to be himself. He has always been who you see now: someone rigging things in his favor because of his superiority.

This is what the European Union is all about - and when push comes to shove, they're a bunch of wimps and pansies that can't defend themselves against anything. They need us, the nation of the common man, yet they have no faith in the common man. He is an idiot to them. Americans are a bunch of uncivilized, dirty, embarrassing little people.

How else do you explain what these people try to do? You can't make one decision that's right. You have to be given everything. You have to be given your health care, Social Security and retirement. Drugs are the latest thing you must be "given," by having these thieves reach into your pocket and the pockets of your fellow taxpayers to pay for it. They don't expect you to have the talent to do anything for yourself. They'll set up a welfare system that will keep you poor for the rest of your life if you sign on to it.

People like Jon Corzine and Daschle and Gephardt derive their power from the dependency they create. If you don't believe me, just look at the legislation they support and propose. Look at who they want to put in jail: anybody that's in the private sector. They want to criminalize conservative policies while blaming criminal behavior on corporations. Yet liberals can get away with cheating, lying and stealing. (See: Corzine Ran Stock Chophouse)

But they're better than everybody else, so they're doing it for everybody else's benefit. They are superiorists. They are entitled. They are aristocracy. They're born to lead. How many of them actually worked for what they have? Oh, there's the occasional exception, but most of them are entitled in their own minds. They're all out of the Ivy League; they're all part of the striped-pants crowd. These are the people leaking our war plans against Iraq to screw up the operation, because they don't believe in the U.S. military.

They're the same people allowing Saudi Arabians into this country with no visas. It doesn't make any sense to those of us who use common sense, but they literally don't think the Saudis are enemies. It's the United States that is the problem - with our massive military. We threaten too many people with our debauched culture - by which they mean our freedom. If we would just change our ways and let liberals run this country, we wouldn't threaten anybody and everybody would leave us alone.

That's how Jon Corzine gets away with being the hypocrite that he is. These liberals are nothing but pure, unadulterated hypocrites. Nine of the top 12 wealthiest United States senators are Democrats, as we cover in Democrats Open Door, Hit Face. Yet listen to them talk. They run down the acquisition of wealth, and set up straw men like the lottery. You're never going to win, but you're so stupid you'll keep letting them rob you blind to pay for their big-government expansion.

Why, they've even convinced you that wanting to keep the money you work for is selfish and amoral! But do they use any of their own personal wealth to alleviate any of the so-called social problems? Look at Algore. He gave only $353 to charity in 1997. These people are pure, unadulterated hypocrites - and they are a clear and present danger to freedom and liberty. The problem is so many Republicans are scared to death of losing this election year, so they just go along with votes to steal your freedom.
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Old 07-17-2002, 08:11 PM   #208
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I remember about the time of the Enron Scandal.. I made the comment.. 'No One was Complaining When the Stock was Going Up', And 'This is only an Issue because people lost money'..

Regardless of the corporate thievery.. I was shit upon for making such a 'callous' and 'mean' statement.. when it was the truth.. And the recent rash of 'Let's Stiffen up Penalties'.. Let's regulate this market further.. It's all bullshit.. More Regulation may soothe the public now, but it is a bad idea.. We already have hundreds of laws of regulation, and we need people of character in the economy.. Which enforcing our current regulations will ultimately provide.... The Tanking of the market now is a correction for how out of reality the market was in teh 90's with the crazed out pe rations and what not..

But today an article appears.. Enjoy..

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Reform 'Hysteria'
By Robert J. Samuelson
Wednesday, July 17, 2002; Page A23


"Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits."

-- Mark Twain

Nothing now so needs reforming as "reform" itself. Every campaign for reform tends to exaggerate the evils it seeks to correct. Public opinion must not only be informed, it must be inflamed. Problems must seem so fearsome that no right-thinking person could doubt the urgency of action. The result all too often is the illusion of reform -- changes that confuse, disappoint and occasionally make things worse. The present stampede to purge corporate America of investor fraud is a case in point.

We are told that only tough reforms can stop accounting abuses and restore public "trust" in the faltering stock market. But no conceivable reform can by itself bolster the market, whose fall is mainly a reaction to previous speculative excesses. Intel's stock is now trading at about $18, down from a peak of almost $75, because its business has deteriorated and the stock got too high -- not because the company was dishonest.

As significant, Congress avoids less sensational changes that might reduce economic risk. Federal tax law encourages companies to take on debt, notes economist William Niskanen of the Cato Institute. Companies can deduct interest payments, but not dividends. In 1952 debt amounted to 40 percent of corporate net worth; now it is 75 percent. But Congress isn't considering changing the tax law. Nor is it facing the issue of stock options, whose explosion tempted executives to inflate profits.

Why be surprised? We live in an era of moral exhibitionism. Every reform moment is an opportunity for public figures -- politicians, TV commentators, columnists -- to strut their self-righteousness. These crusades become orgies of rhetorical self-promotion. This is why the present campaign to restore confidence in the stock market is, almost certainly, backfiring.

Starting with the president, politicians compete to show how outraged they are and how tough they'll be on corporate "crooks" and "cheats." Pundits ooze indignation. Is there any rhetorical exercise easier than assailing executive greed? Watching this spectacle, most sane investors must feel disillusioned. There are genuine scandals: WorldCom, Enron, Tyco. But the din of denunciation makes all of corporate America seem a cesspool of dishonesty.

It's guilt by public tantrum. If no one can be trusted, why stay in the market? The irony is huge. In the late 1990s, many of these authorities lavishly praised the "new economy" and thereby encouraged investors to buy wildly overpriced stocks. Now that many stocks have dropped to more reasonable levels, the implicit message is to sell.

Public relations drives "reform" politics. Debates emphasize ills to be corrected rather than distasteful choices to be made. Consider some other "reform" specimens. Advocates of "campaign finance reform" exaggerate the corruption of political contributions and deny that their favorite remedies impinge on free speech. But the recently enacted McCain-Feingold legislation restricts the ability of political groups to run "issue ads" within 60 days of an election. If that's not a limit on free speech, what is?

Or consider the Medicare "reform" to cover prescription drugs. This would be wonderful for people over 65. But it would be less wonderful for taxpayers. The costs are reckoned to be high and are probably underestimated. Is it true "reform" to increase the already huge money transfer from young to old? Congress ignores that question. Too inconvenient.

The present inconvenience is that the stock market's weakness -- which everyone wants to cure -- isn't fundamentally caused by accounting lapses, which are the focus of the "reforms." Perhaps the opposite. Recall some familiar figures: The historic price-earnings ratio of the Standard & Poor's 500 is about 14, meaning that a dollar of corporate earnings (profits) results in an average stock price of about $14. At its peak, the recent market's P/E ratio rose to the mid-30s.

When stocks reach unsustainable levels, their inevitable fall will create resentment. People who sold at or near the top will inspire envy, and if these include top corporate executives (as they do), there will naturally be suspicions that they knew things others didn't. Companies will also be tempted to take accounting shortcuts to shore up stock prices. But the main problem of the bull market was reckless investing, not reckless accounting. People made bad decisions because they were gullible or greedy, not because they had bad information.

Although this is obvious, it is political poison to say so. After all, average investors vote. Even the press and pundits deemphasize the simple truths, because it seems ungracious to blame the market's victims for their own misfortune. Better to finger corporate greed and duplicity, which can be remedied by "reform."

Some proposals before Congress might improve accounting reliability. But financial markets are likely to cure accounting inadequacies faster than Congress. Having been hurt by misleading financial statements, big investors are demanding more detail and clarity. Companies whose numbers are suspect will suffer through lower stock prices. Some companies -- notably, Coca-Cola -- have even decided to include the cost of stock options in income statements.

By contrast, some congressional "reforms" clearly overreach. By a 97-0 vote, the Senate passed a provision to make "any scheme or artifice" that defrauded investors a crime. This sweeping language could unwisely criminalize any bad business judgment and invite random investigations by ambitious prosecutors. Its appeal is political. It allows senators to fulminate about how they're going to toss corporate thugs in the slammer. Great sound bites.

The trouble is that people listen to those sound bites, and when they reach a critical mass, they begin to alter the national mood. "Reform" is an exercise in advancing political reputations but not necessarily the public interest or popular confidence.


© 2002 The Washington Post Company
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Old 07-17-2002, 08:43 PM   #209
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FBI Boss Thinks bin Laden is Dead
Wed Jul 17, 5:23 PM ET
By CHRISTOPHER NEWTON, Associated Press Writer

FBI ( news - web sites) counterterrorism chief Dale Watson said Wednesday that he believes Osama bin Laden ( news - web sites) is dead — the first time a senior U.S. law enforcement official publicly has given an opinion on the al-Qaida leader's status.

Watson quickly emphasized that he had no evidence that the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks was dead. But his comments, at a conference of local law enforcement officials from across the country, suggest the FBI has no direct intelligence that proves bin Laden is alive.

"Is (bin Laden) alive or is he dead?" Watson said. "I am not really sure of the answer ... I personally think he is probably not with us anymore but I have no evidence to support that."

Watson also said bin Laden's al-Qaida network of terrorist training camps has been dismantled, but "there is no question in my mind ... we will be attacked again."

The terrorist "fleas" infesting the country "want to kill you," Watson said. "They could be in your neighborhood."

He said the government is committed to sharing information with the public when the FBI has specific information of a terrorist threat.

Watson, who rarely makes public appearances, is the top official for counterterrorism and counterintelligence in the FBI. He did not elaborate on his comments on bin Laden and rushed away from reporters after he spoke.

Some U.S. and Justice Department ( news - web sites) officials said they were surprised by Watson's comments. They said the Bush administration's position remains that bin Laden's whereabouts and status are unknown. FBI officials declined comment.

Watson joined the FBI as a special agent in 1978. In June, 1996 he joined the CIA ( news - web sites) for several months, working as a deputy to the head of the intelligence agency's counterterrorism center. He returned to the FBI in January 1997 to take charge of international terrorism affairs and in 1999 he was named director of the agency's Counterterrorism Division.

Since December, reports of bin Laden's well-being have been sporadic and from different sources.

This month, a London-based Arabic newspaper said bin Laden was wounded in a U.S. bombing raid in Afghanistan ( news - web sites) last year but was in good health.

There was no way to verify the report in London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi. U.S. officials say they have no evidence bin Laden was wounded in the U.S. bombing of al-Qaida hide-outs in Tora Bora, Afghanistan, late last year, but acknowledge it is a possibility.

The newspaper's editor said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that bin Laden had surgery to remove shrapnel from his left shoulder.

On Saturday, the head of Germany's Federal Intelligence Service was quoted as saying bin Laden was alive and hiding along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
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Old 07-18-2002, 03:33 AM   #210
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The country is riven and ailing, with a guns-plus-butter nuttiness in some of its governing echelons and the sort of lapsed logic implicit in the collapse of trust in money-center capitalism, which has been an undergirding theory of a good deal of the work that many people do. The tallest buildings, real profit centers, fall, as "wogs" and "ragheads" defy us, perhaps comparably to how the "gooks" in Vietnam did (from whose example Osama bin Laden may have learned that we could be defeated). But that was on foreign soil, and we believed that we had pulled our punches and beaten ourselves, and so remained triumphalist for the remainder of the twentieth century, as we had been practically since Reconstruction.

Now we're not so sure. For the first time since the War of 1812 we have been damaged in continental America by foreigners, having made other people hate us, though we had never needed to pay attention to such matters before. Proxies could fight the malcontents for us in places like Central America, and the Japanese and Germans, would-be conquerors, had not felt much real animus, becoming close, amicable allies after the war. Our first World War II hero, Colin Kelly, three days after Pearl Harbor, flew his B-17 bomber (as media myth had it) in kamikaze fashion to hit a Japanese cruiser, before the Japanese made a practice of it. To give your life for your country, like Nathan Hale, is an ideal that's since evaporated.

Obese individually and as a nation, and trying to stall the aging process, we talk instead of cars and taxes, sports and movies, cancer and entitlements, but with a half-unmentioned inkling too of what more ominously may be in store--a premonition that our righteous confidence might have served us just a bit too well. We never agonized a lot about killing off the Indians, or our slaving history either, once that was over, or being the only nuclear power ever to incinerate multitudes of people. We've hardly seemed to notice when free enterprise segues into simple greed, because our religious beginnings countenanced rapacity, as long as you tithed. Settling the seaboard in official belts of piety, whether Puritan, Anglican, Quaker or Dutch Reformed (only the frontier tended to be atheistic), we seized land and water with abandon, joined by Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists and what have you, westward ho. Each group encouraged its rich men to creep like a camel through the eye of the needle, and political freedoms were gradually canted away from the pure ballot box toward influence-buying.

We swallowed all of that because the New World dream envisioned everybody working hard and getting fairly rich, except when undertows of doubt pervaded our prosperity, as in the 1930s and 1960s; or now when, feeling gridlocked, we wonder if we haven't gone too far and used the whole place up. We seem to need some kind of condom invented just for greed--a latex sac where spasms of that particular vice can be ejaculated, captured and contained. Like lust, it's not going to go away. Nor will Monopoly games do the trick, any more than pornographic videos erase impulses that might result in harm. The old phrase patrons of prostitutes used to use--"getting your ashes hauled"--said it pretty well, and if we could persuade people to think of greed, as well, that way and expel its destructiveness perhaps into a computer screen, trapping the piggishness in cyberspace might save a bit of Earth. The greediest guys would not be satisfied, but greed might be looked on as slightly outré.

Some vertigo or "near death" experience of global warming may be required to trip the necessary degree of alarm. The droughts and water wars, a polar meltdown and pelagic crisis--too much saltwater and insufficient fresh. In the meantime, dried-up high plains agriculture and Sunbelt golf greens in the Republicans' heartlands will help because African famines are never enough. We need a surge of altruism, artesian decency. The oddity of greed nowadays is that it is so often solo--in the service of one ego--not ducal or kingly, as the apparatus of an unjust state. Overweening possession, such as McMansions and so on, will be loony in the century we are entering upon--ecologically, economically, morally, commonsensically. But how will we realize this, short of disastrous procrastination? Hurricanes and centrifugal violence on the home front, not to mention angry Arabs flying into the World Trade Center? That astounded us: both the anger and the technological savvy. These camel-herding primitives whom we had manipulated, fleeced, romanticized and patronized for generations, while pumping out their oil and bottling them up in monarchies and emirates that we cultivated and maintained, while jeering at them with casual racism in the meantime, when we thought of it, for not having democracies like ours. To discover that satellite TV, the Internet and some subversive preaching should suddenly provide them access to divergent opinions disconcerts if it doesn't frighten us, as does their willingness to counterpose rudimentary suicide missions to the helicopter gunships and F-16s we provide the Israelis. "Don't they value life?"

They won't be the last. The Vietcong were as culturally different from the Palestinians as we are and yet succeeded in winning a country for themselves, at a tremendous but bearable cost, which the Palestinians will also undoubtedly do. Self-sacrifice can be a match for weaponry, not because the Americans or Israelis value Asian or Arab life--at key junctures and for essentially racist reasons they have not--but because of the value they place on their own citizenry. As many as fifty Vietnamese lives were lost for every American's, but that was not a high enough ratio for us, even though, unlike some Israelis, we don't ascribe to ourselves a biblical imprimatur. So we let them have their land, and the domino calamities that had been famously predicted did not result.

To equate our own revolution with anybody else's is quite offensive to us. Mostly, in fact, we prefer to forget that we had a revolutionary past and kicked thousands of wealthy Tories into Canada, seizing their property. We were slow to condemn apartheid in South Africa, having scarcely finished abolishing our own at the time, and have been slow in general to support self-governance in the warmer climates or to acknowledge suffering among people whose skins are beiger than ours. And if our income per capita is sixty or eighty times theirs, that doesn't strike us as strange. We are a bootstrap country, after all. They should pay us heed. And the whole United Nations is "a cesspool," according to a recent New York City mayor.

But primitive notions like those of Ed Koch invite a primitive response. And box-cutters in the hands of Taliban fundamentalists are not our main problem. We have gratuitously destroyed so much of nature that the Taliban's smashing up of Buddhist statues, as comparative vandalism, will someday seem quite minuscule. We have also denatured our own nominal religions: that is, taken the bite of authenticity out of Christianity, for instance. Our real problem, I think, is a centrifugal disorientation and disbelief. There is a cost to cynicism (as in our previous activities in Afghanistan), and the systematic demonizing of communitarianism during the cold war made it harder afterward for us to reject as perverse the double-talking profiteering implicit in phenomena like Enron, when we had thought that anything was better than collective regulation and planning.

But ceasing to believe in revolutionary democracy--whether of the secular or Christian (or Emersonian) variety--has proven costly. A decent regard for the welfare of other people, in international as well as local life, is going to be more than just a matter of private virtue. In a shrinking world it may be a survival tool. Fanaticism doesn't carry as far unless catastrophic economic conditions lurk in the background, as we learned in the case of Germany between the two world wars but then, when non-Caucasians were involved, forgot. Our foreign aid budget, once the cold war ended, collapsed into spectacular stinginess, and our sole response to September 11 has been police work. This can probably erase Al Qaeda--which became after its instant victory that one morning quite superfluous anyway--but not the knowledge of our vulnerability to any handful of smart and angry plotters in this technological age. We might see an explosion of those.

Our national self-absorption (in which the focus seems more on trying to stay young than helping the young) may give capitalism a bad name. Simple hedonism and materialism was not the point of crossing the ocean. Our revolution was better than that. It was to paint the world anew.
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